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New Research May Lead to Treatment for Jet Lag

A novel modulator of cellular circadian rhythms has been discovered. It may lead to new therapies for jet lag and sleep disorders.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 12/15/2010, 11:40 AM / Last Update: 12/15/2010, 11:56 AM

Alessandro Zangrilli / Wik

A novel modulator of cellular circadian rhythms has been discovered by a multi-site research team led by Dr.Tsuyoshi Hirota in the University of California at San Diego's Division of Biological Sciences.

The findings were published this week in the journal PloS Biology and may have implications for future treatment of jet lag.

The joint study was conducted together with the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation in San Diego, the Scripps Research Institute in LaJolla, California and the Department of Neurobiology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

The small molecule lengthens the circadian period in a variety of cells from different tissues, including that of the central clock which controls behavioral rhythms.

The team named the molecule -- whose effect is dose-dependent -- “Longdaysin” and said that in their experimental larval zebrafish, the compound “drastically” lengthened the circadian period.

“Longdaysin provides novel possibilities in manipulating clock functions due to its ability to simultaneously inhibit several key components of this conserved network across species,” the team said in its abstract.

Sleep/wake behavior, body temperature, the secretion of hormones, and metabolism in humans all function with a rhythm that is controlled by the body's circadian clock. Likewise, disruption of that process may also lead to health problems, among them circadian sleep disorders, cardiovascular disease, cancer and metabolic disease.

“Identification of clock-modulating compounds could form the basis for therapeutic strategies directed towards circadian rhythm-related disorders, shift-work fatigue, and jet lag,” the research team noted.